Alfa Memories

Materials

  • A total of 3.1m of dark fabrics (this includes fabric for the binding)
  • A total of 1.7m of light fabrics
  • A total of 70cm of red fabrics
  • 1.35 x 2.25m wadding (Anne used Hobbs Heirloom black 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding)
  • 4.5m of backing fabric (three pieces joined horizontally)
  • Cotton thread for piecing
  • Invisible and quilting thread for quilting

Note: If you want to use a variety of darks and lights, as here, then you will need larger amounts of your darker darks and darker lights: Anne bought 30-40cm and 20cm strips, respectively, of these. You’ll only need 10cm strips of the inner Log Cabin fabrics. If you run out of a particular fabric then don’t worry, just choose something else as it won’t show in the random mix!

Finished Size

125 x 214cm (49 x 84in)

Block Size

Large blocks: 14in, Small blocks: 7in

Skill Level

Advanced

You can download a pdf copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, Alfa Memories

The design and colour scheme of this quilt was inspired by Alfa Romeo cars. The off-centre Log Cabin block is ideal for creating the illusion of circles, which captures the essence of moving engine parts.

Small Log Cabin Blocks

TIP! If you can, it is a good idea to pin your blocks on a design wall (an old double bed sheet will do) as you work, to ensure a good mix of fabrics throughout your design

  1. Prepare your strips ready for piecing. Across the width of the fabric cut approximately 36 1 1⁄2in wide dark strips and 29 1in wide light strips.
  2. Select fabrics for your block and cut to size following the table. Lay out next to your machine ready for piecing. See Figure 1 for placement order of strips. A useful point to remember is you should always sew two narrow, and then two wide, strips.
  3. Starting with the ‘centre’ square and the shortest light strip placed RS together, stitch in place using a 1⁄4in seam allowance. Press the seam away from the centre. Working clockwise, place the next light strip in place and stitch; press as before. Continue in this fashion until the block is complete.
  4. Repeat until you have 36 7in blocks (These should be 7 1⁄2in with the seam allowance). Press all the blocks well and remove any stray threads from the back, keep flat while you make the next blocks.
Figure 1: Small Log Cabin block
Figure 1: Small Log Cabin block

TIP! An airing rack next to your sewing area is very useful for hanging your strips on; they can then be arranged in tonal order, making choosing your fabrics for each block much simpler

Large Log Cabin Blocks

Figure 2: Large Log Cabin block
Figure 2: Large Log Cabin block
Narrow strips Thick strips
Strip and Length Strip and Length
Strip a: 1 1⁄2in Strip A: 1 1⁄2in
Strip b: 2in Strip B: 2in
Strip c: 3in Strip C: 3in
Strip d: 3 1⁄2in Strip D: 3 1/2in
Strip e: 4 1⁄2in Strip E: 4 1/2in
Strip f: 5in Strip F: 5in
Strip g: 6in Strip G: 6in
Strip h: 6 1/2in Strip H: 6 1/2in
Strip i: 2 1/2 in Strip I: 7 1/2in
Strip j: 3 1/2 in Strip J: 2 1/2in
Strip k: 6 1/2in Strip K: 3 1/2in
Strip l: 5 1/2in Strip L: 5 1/2in
Strip m: 8 1/2in Strip M: 2 1/2in
Strip n: 9 1/2in Strip N: 3 1/2in
Strip o: 11 1/2in Strip O: 5 1/2in
Strip p:12 1/2in Strip P: 6 1/2in
  Strip Q: 8 1/2in
  1. Prepare your strips ready for piecing. Across the width of the fabric cut about 14 2 1⁄2in wide dark strips and about eight 2 1⁄2in wide red strips. Cut approximately 18 1 1⁄2in wide light strips.
  2. Select the fabrics for your block and then cut to size and lay out ready for piecing as before. Following Figure 2 for placement and the table for cutting sizes.
  3. Piece the red and dark pieces to create the Log Cabin strips. Press the seams to the dark fabric.
  4. Piece the Log Cabin blocks following step 3 of the small log cabin blocks above, until you have eight of these larger Log Cabin blocks.
  5. Piece four more Log Cabin blocks but note that on Anne’s quilt one of the outer dark strips is red (not pieced) and the other outer strip has red pieces, 2 1⁄2in longer than in the other blocks to represent the Alfa cross, you may wish to just make 12 blocks as shown in Figure 2 instead. Blocks are 14in finished (14 1⁄2in unfinished).
Log Cabin blocks

Assembly and Quilting

Figure 3: Layout Diagram
Figure 3: Layout Diagram
  1. Lay out your blocks as shown in Figure 3, or play around to find an alternative pleasing arrangement.
  2. Join the blocks to give sections that you can join further – a bit of mental juggling is required here! For example, at the top of the quilt: join two 7in blocks; then join these to the left-hand 14in block; join the two right-hand 14in blocks; join these two sections together. The 7in blocks in the row below this section can be joined together, and these two sections can then be joined. Press all the seams open as you work with a hot iron.
  3. Piece your backing fabric, which you can do with either vertical or horizontal seams.
  4. Give the quilt top and backing a good press. Place the backing fabric WS up on a flat clean surface, lay the wadding on top, followed by the pieced top placed centrally and RS up. The backing and wadding will be slightly larger than the finished quilt top.
  5. Starting from the centre, using quilter’s curved safety pins, pin the layers together, smoothing the quilt as you go.
  6. With a lively pieced design you don’t want your quilting to detract from the patchwork; Anne used a large vermicelli pattern over the quilt surface, using invisible (dark) thread on top and a coordinating variegated thread in the bobbin. If you are not confident about free-motion quilting then you could use an unobtrusive straight-line pattern, such as crosshatching. (As the seams have been pressed open you cannot quilt in the ditch.)

Finishing

  1. Baste around the edge of your quilt just under 1⁄4in from the edge; trim the excess backing fabric and wadding level with the quilt top edges. Check the corners are still square before you trim too much.
  2. Make the binding. Anne made a scrappy binding from the dark fabrics used in the quilt top. Cut 2 1⁄4in straight-grain strips and join with diagonal seams – pressed open to avoid excess bulk – until you have a binding strip about 276in. Fold the binding strip in half lengthwise, WS together, and press.
  3. Match the raw edges of the binding to the edges of your quilt top and sew in place, folding a mitre at each corner. Fold the binding to the back of the quilt and slipstitch in place. Finally, add a label.

First published in Popular Patchwork January 2006